These Are the Days of Our Deaths

October 7, 2023 —
As I write this, it’s almost midnight, the Halloween lights are on outside thanks to the timer that I haven’t gotten quite right (they’ve been on since noon), but not inside. It’s dark inside. And I spent the rainy day alone, dark inside myself. Today’s the second anniversary of my brother’s death. So it was a rough one, both by itself and, in hindsight, knowing it was the kickoff to two years of a continuum of multifarious destructions of my life and family by the person I trusted the most with them.

I’d always wanted to put together a Halloween Season calendar. Something where every square of the season features the anniversary of something macabre or seasonally relevant. Like the day Vincent Price died (October 25, 1993). Or the day Jack the Ripper was named (September 27, 1888). Or the debut of Elvira’s Movie Macabre (September 26, 1981). And, of course, the day of the death of Edgar Allan Poe, who shares a death day with my brother. In fact, prior to October 7, 2021, my October 7th’s were spent celebrating Poe on the socials and cajoling people to buy Poe-Land.

I don’t think I could entertain that calendar idea anymore. The Fall calendar squares are too full of my own tragedies. The death of my mother (September 16, 2016). My brother’s birthday (October 2, 1978). And, as I mentioned, the day of his death.

Back when my mother was the only tragedy in my life, we memorialized her every year with what we called “Gin and Boris.” We’d watch Boris Karloff movies and drink gin cocktails as a reflection of the time we spent at my mom’s house in Maryland the week after her death. One night, exhausted by the grief and the funeral preparations, Lindsey and I made martinis and watched a couple Boris Karloff movies that my mother had saved for me on her DVR. She was always looking out for me with stuff like that, even if she didn’t totally understand it. This year, obviously, I didn’t memorialize mom that way on September 16, nor in any way. Nor could I expand Gin and Boris to cover all my tragedies.

It turns out that every mechanism you discover to deal with a specific tragedy is useless for your next tragedy.

I’m going to stay up a while after I post this, I think. I don’t have to get up early tomorrow morning, and I’m sort of curious when the tricky timer will extinguish the exterior Halloween lights. Also, just to find relief in the October 8 calendar square (the day that Governor William Phipps disallowed spectral evidence in the Salem Witch Trials in 1692).

I don’t know. I guess I just need to keep repeating to myself: It’s only a calendar square, only a calendar square, only a calendar square.